Two words that rarely crop up when describing gaming laptops are 'minimalist' and 'restrained'. In a niche where the colourful Alienware M-series is among the more discrete in appearance, even with an illuminated sci-fi head on the lid, it doesn't take much to be elegant.
To its credit, the Asus G71 boasts a clean look compared to its competition. There are flashing LEDs on the rear of the screen that change colour as the internal temperature heats up, and bright red flashes down the side. But beyond that, it feels positively reserved for a laptop of this size and purpose.
Quad core power
It gets better. The keyboard is a full-sized affair that's very comfortable for gaming, and the mousepad has a sleek surface identical to the multi-touch pads in Asus' EeePC range, although it lacks support for two fingered scrolling and zooming.
Inside, though, it holds little back. The best-in-class quad core processor can be overclocked on the fly thanks to the Power4Gear eXtreme application, and there's a full terabyte of hard drive space on board, coupled with a Blu-ray drive for playing back HD movies on the gorgeous 1920x1200 screen.
Asus has bundled some excellent peripherals with it too – a Razer gaming mouse, a pair of top quality SteelSeries headphones and a very useful backpack.
Even though the G71 is slimmer than other 17inchers out there, lugging it around in a normal shoulder bag for any length of time will leave you best suited for a career in campanology at Notre Dame cathedral.
With all that space and processing power, and HDMI to boot, the G71 is one of the best notebooks around if you are looking for a semi-permanent entertainment centre to be installed in your lounge.
An entertainer, not a gamer
The thing is, Asus is pitching the G71 explicitly as a games machine – and to put it bluntly, it's simply not. There's one key ingredient missing, and that's a decent graphics card.
The single GeForce 9700M GT doesn't produce framerates any where near comparable to the twin 8800GTs in an Asus G70, or the Crossfire X dual cards that current Alienwares are running. There's no way you'll get a recent game running at a playable speed at the monitor's native 1920x1200 resolution without turning all other image settings down low.
There's a huge imbalance between the supercharged CPU and the sub-par graphics card, and the only thing it really does is bump the price way up.
If you want a G71 for gaming or watching movies, go for the dual core version and save yourself £600 – the performance will be identical. You'd better really need all four cores for a specialist application to justify splashing out for the full price alternative.